Beau Jocque & the Zydeco Hi-Rollers

Give Him Cornbread: Live     Rounder 2160

from Round Up, Rounder Records,    november 2000 

                     Beau Jocque, died in '99

Perhaps more than any other quality, Andrus Espre had the vision and determination to remake himself, and once he invented the character he
called Beau Jocque, after a childhood nickname, there was no stopping him.
At the time he began learning to play the accordion, he had already had
several scrapes with mortality, first in a military accident, and then in an industrial mishap which left him temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.

He and his wife, Michelle, began at tending zydeco dances and making note of the kinds of grooves and songs that made people move and respond.

Yet, there was nothing calculated in his music -he would latch onto a rhythmic Figure or a melody or a verbal phrase and use it as a springboard until pure feeling was the only governing factor in his performance.

 It was a marvel to experience. At Richard's Club in Lawtell in 1993, soon after the release of the Beau Jocque Boogie album, parked cars lined the highway
for half a mile in each direction. His "Give Him Cornbread," based on a traditional melody but including a quote trom rapper FM, became the biggest zydeco hit of the
1990s, the kind of song DJs played twice in a row on the radio. He performed in rodeo arenas and opened stadium shows in Houston for R&B  singers like Bobby "Blue" Bland.
His band, particularly drummer Steve Charlot and the extraordinarily talented bassist Chuck Bush, goaded him on with shouts and yells until the intensity of their performances was palpable. People were knocked out, and they kept
coming back.

At the very peak of Beau Jocque's popularity in South Louisiana, promoter (and musician) Lawrence "Black" Ardoin  staged a battle of the bands between Beau Jocque and Boozoo Chavis. Boozoo is the fireplug accordion player who had made the first commercial zydeco record in 1954, and who had been riding his own wave of popularity in the dancehalls when Beau Jocque came along.
Over 1400 people showed up for this Sunday afternoon showdown at the Habibi Temple in Lake Charles, including the film-maker Bob Mugge, who found the theme for his film, The Kingdom of Zydeco, in the sparring of these two musicians.
Coincidentally, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame had crowned Boozoo "King of Zydeco" the day before, so a kingdom was truly at stake!

This never-before-released album presents the set Beau Jocque played that afternoon, and it may be his most fiery performance on record.
Along with songs from Beau Jocque Boogie, including a spectacular performance of "Cornbread," are several traditional songs and, as if up the ante in the "battle," two Boozoo songs, "Bad Bad Woman" and "Do It All Night."

For, if Beau Jocque was a true innovator, his roots were firmly implanted in
Boozoo's firmament. In fact, their rivalry was like that of two professional wrestlers, and they would wink at future batties as the people lined up to
see them. Nonetheless, the excitement in the air at the Habibi Temple inspired both musicians to give their best, even if, in the end, the battle was ruled a draw.

Includes: Introduction by Lawrence Ardoin, "Give Him Cornbread," "Bad Bad Woman," "Beau Jocque Boogie," "Baby Please Don't Go," "Grand Marais,' "Damballah," "'Gardez Donc!" "Brownskin Woman," "Nonc Adam," "Boogie Chillen," "I Went To the Dance Last Night," "Do It All! Night"